If ever there was a time to make money through an online business, this is it. As a matter of fact, in today’s world, an ever-increasing number of people are hopping on to the e-commerce bandwagon as a means of making it into the ‘major leagues’ in terms of ROI (return on investments). In fact, there is the very real example of the likes of Jeff Bezos of Amazon and Jack Ma of Ali Baba and Ali Express to follow, as well as any one of the myriads of highly successful online superstores that currently occupy the cyber landscape.
However, it is prudent to understand that merely creating an online store, stocking it with products and waiting for customers to simply show up, is not going to help you emulate all those big boys out there. In fact, if you are going to build an e-commerce website and then proceed to wait for customers to show up on their own, then you may as well not create the site, to begin with.
You should only go ahead until and unless you take a series of certain steps to ensure that the site is not only relevant to your target market, but also the casual browsers who end up there. In other words, any prospective visitor should be willing to take certain actions that are directly consistent with the overall objectives for which you have set up the site in the first place.
For example, if you are running a product awareness site for a popular brand of footwear who might have outsourced their online brand awareness campaign to you. Then you might want to use your site as both an information center as well as a landing page to gently ‘nudge’ them towards visiting the main retail page of the company. Alternately, it could be a simple web-based retail portal (ala eBay and other sites) where you have cut out the middlemen in order to provide goods straight from the manufacturer to the end customer. For that matter, you might have created a simple data collection portal that caters to the marketing and sales needs of your clients.
In any of the above scenarios, you will still need to market your website so as to be able to generate not just relevant traffic but also a more positive response as well, from your original target audience.
The web funnel
This is the part where the concept of the ‘web marketing funnel’ comes into its own. In the real world context, the ubiquitous funnel is basically a simple pipe or a tube that has a much larger (typically elongated) diameter at the top end than at the bottom. Whenever either liquids or even powder based solids are poured in at the top, they will eventually end up finding their way into the markedly narrower opening at the bottom.
The idea works pretty much the same way in the virtual world of e-commerce portals and websites as well. Taking this analogy further into the sphere of digital businesses, the potential customers are gently guided or channeled into the funnel where they end up taking those actions on your site for which it was originally designed for. For example, it could be a customer’s decision to make an expensive purchase (thereby showing the end customer’s trust in the product) or even something as small and seemingly innocuous as merely filling out an email address that can be used to send great product offers to the prospective customer.
In a nutshell, a ‘conversion funnel’ (as the very term implies) acts as a conduit to basically “convert” an otherwise casual browser into an actual consumer of a product or service. It also applies when the visitors at a site actually follow through on actions that the site hopes they perform. In web marketing jargon, the end result of this process is known as a “conversion.”
Basically, the visitor will ‘convert’ from merely browsing a site to taking the specific action that the site owner actually wants him or her to take and that is indeed the core purpose of the site.
However, there are many different stages in this entire conversion process, and just about all of them have to be defined properly. This is because poorly defined paths tend to veer off course, and the site ends up losing revenue in the long run.
For instance, if a thousand potential customers visit a site and only one or two conversions take place, it means that the funnel is leaking along the way, and certain steps have to be taken immediately in order to remedy this situation.
Let‘s dive deep into these steps:
Step one: They have to actually visit the site
Step Two: They may spend time viewing different products and services before they actually like something (browsing)
Step three: They add the desired product to the shopping cart
Step four: They finally go ahead and make the actual purchase
For the funnel to have a really high conversion rate, it is important that each and every one of these steps is optimized in order to ensure the desired result.
To a fairly large extent, the same rule applies to social media business pages as well where potential customers can check out peer reviews, see products, and eventually make that all important purchase decision.
The good news is, it is not all that difficult to create a great and near watertight web marketing funnel, provided, that you have the right information beforehand, and therefore can take the relevant steps to make an online business venture, a runaway success.